Reduction in soft loans will improve access of successful businesses to loans
According to the Belarusian Economy Ministry, in 2017, administrative lending to the economy will be halved as compared with 2016. The estimated amount of administrative loans in 2016 should not exceed BYN 2.8 billion. Simultaneously, enterprises should repay previously issued loans, which exceed this amount. The state is reducing administrative loans in accordance with the commitments to the EEU Anti-Crisis Fund. In 2017, administrative lending should not exceed BYN 1.3 billion. The state is likely to reduce support for key economic sectors. That said, half of agricultural enterprises could become unprofitable; cases of bankruptcy and restructuring of public enterprises could double as compared with 2016. In addition, the state will require additional funds to repay social obligations under labour contracts with employees at distressed companies. Access by successful businesses to credit resources is likely to improve due to the anticipated overall decline in interest rates, albeit social tension may increase due to a new wave of layoffs at troubled enterprises.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.